Personal Growth in 2024

I can’t help myself but hope that this year will be better than last year. I’m a hopeless optimist, or should that be hopeful optimist???

I figured out a few years ago that I’m much better off not settling my resolutions by Jan 1st but in the Springtime instead. For some reason, I find it easier to build momentum when the days are getting warmer and brighter, the flowers are emerging and the trees are budding. January to March can feel like a hard slog.

I spend the first couple of months of the year generating clarity on what I want, especially when it comes to personal growth. Some goals need to be nailed by Jan 1st but for me, personal growth goals need time to percolate.

So, for 2024, here are some thoughts and ideas (and a simple framework) that help me start the year off well.

Personal growth is defined as “the continuation of developing one’s potential, ‘growing as a person,’ and confronting new challenges in life” (Ryff, 1989) and the extent to which a person is “making use of their personal talents and potential” (Ryff, 2014).

The two fields I focus on for my own personal growth and that of my clients are:


2. Capacity

I view personal growth as a move from having great potential to having greater capacity. And greater capacity is what I am pursuing.

When linking capacity with personal growth, some definitions can be helpful.

capacity [ kuh-pas-i-tee ] noun, plural ca·pac·i·ties.

  1. the ability to receive or contain
  2. the maximum amount or number that can be received or contained, e.g. volume
  3. power of receiving impressions, knowledge e.g. mental ability, capacity to learn
  4. actual or potential ability to perform, yield, or withstand e.g. capacity for hard work.
  5. quality or state of being susceptible to a given treatment or action, capacity to withstand pressure.

Capacity, in this context, is a general term I use to refer to a person’s ability to:

  • receive and utilise information, resources and opportunities
  • effectively perform and take action
  • withstand stressors and pressure

So, capacity might encompass things like knowledge, skill and motivation (within the frames of mind, body and spirit) as well as qualities such as wisdom, empathy, love and an ability to work effectively with others, e.g, communication , collaboration and leadership.

Having a limited capacity affects my functionality and effectiveness in many ways across lots of situations.

One of the great joys of my work is exploring ways to increase a person’s capacity towards realising their immense potential. There is little else as meaningful or enjoyable.

The kinds of life arenas we may cover:

Health: body, mind and spirit

Effort: service & contribution, work & career

Connection: romantic, family – nuclear and extended, friendship, community

Creation: hobbies & creativity (art), recreation, wealth

Place: home, planet

There is no set recipe for how a person moves towards growth. We are all unique and the environments in which we operate differ enormously. I appreciate the Maurer et al. (2023) broad definition of personal growth, especially the notion that it is a dynamic, non-linear process. They describe it as an “holistic, dynamic process of gradual, well-being enhancing psychosocial change”. It’s for this reason, I don’t subscribe to any set 5 or 7 steps to success process.

Taking ownership of our own proclivities and patterns and discovering our own process of growth (with the support or educators, coaches, therapists, mentors and peers) and which systems work best for us on our unique journey, is what makes life so challenging and at the same time exciting.

2. Context

Focusing on context has, in my humble opinion, been one of the most helpful things I can do undervalued and overlooked in the field of personal growth. Using the metaphor of horticulture, it would be naive to simply concentrate on the quality of the sapling when attempting to cultivate how a young tree. Environmental factors and the care given to the cultivation are of primary importance.

context [ kɒn.tekst ] noun

the situation within which something exists or happens, and that can help explain it:

the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs : ENVIRONMENT, SETTING

Eric Berne (1963) introduced the idea of culture into Transactional Analysis (my primary approach to psychological work) which he defined as, material, intellectual and social influences. He was bringing to TA the concept of context, and the recognition that each of us is contextualised.

In a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of psychotherapy, Lambert (1992) discovered that as much as 40% of the improvement in psychotherapy clients was attributed to client variables and extratherapeutic influences, and “many clients improve without formal psychological intervention [which] highlights the importance of supportive and therapeutic aspects of the natural environment in which clients live and function (Hubble et al., 1999).

There are two pivotal factors within a person’s context that are important to be aware of: a) support

b) Demand

and the nature and quality of these.

The tension between these two factors can significantly influence the potential for an individual to grow within a given context.

I will be writing more about these factors in future posts.

In the meantime, here are three questions that might stimulate your plans and goals for the year ahead…

In 2024, what specific capacity do you want to develop in order to grow?

What do you need to change about your context in order to gain the support you need?

What contextual demands will be required or avoided to stimulate that growth?

Personally, in 2024 I want to increase my capacity for boldness, e.g. be more authentic and share my ideas more (like this), create demands through goal setting and spending more time with good people who inspire, support and challenge me.

Finally, I wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to connecting with you.


Berne, E. (1963). The structure and dynamics of organizations and groups. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.

Hubble, M. A., Duncan, B. L., & Miller, S. D. (Eds) (1999). The Heart & Soul of Change: What Works in Therapy. Washington D. C.: American Psychological Association.

Lambert, M. J. (1992). The Handbook of Psychology Integration, Basic Books, New York

Maurer, M.M., Maurer, J., Hoff, E. and Daiva Daukantaitė (2023). What is the process of personal growth? Introducing the Personal Growth Process Model. New Ideas in Psychology, 70, pp.101024–101024.

Ryff, C. D. (1989, December). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology57(6), 1069–1081.

Ryff, C.D. (2014). Psychological Well-Being Revisited: Advances in the Science and Practice of Eudaimonia. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, [online] 83(1), pp.10–28.


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